Yes, the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson and NSA Controversies Have Something in Common

1493075_10152125051552489_250878569_nI know many of you are thinking, “How in the world can these two stories have much in common?”  And for the most part you’d be right.

The NSA spying “controversy” and Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments “controversy” have very little in common as far as the stories go.  But what’s similar with both of these situations was how people reacted to them.

To prove my point, I just really have to ask three questions:

  • Are you really shocked that the NSA has been pushing the envelope on what is or isn’t legal as it relates to surveillance and our national security?
  • Are you really shocked that a long-bearded Southern self-proclaimed redneck who talks about the Bible and God often doesn’t support gay rights?
  • If you answered no, then why are you pretending to be shocked?

This article isn’t about the two issues themselves — that’s a whole other issue altogether and I’ve written plenty about both of them.  But what I’ve found most interesting is the reaction to these situations by millions of Americans who seemed “shocked” by things that should have been obvious to start with.

Most people seem to assume the NSA was doing exactly what has been reported in the last few months (really the last few years).  Yet, once the Snowden story came to light, suddenly people were outraged — over what most of those same people assumed was already happening.

It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  I get why people might be bothered by the news about the NSA, I just don’t quite understand why people who openly admitted to believing that this was already going on would suddenly seem outraged because of it.  If we want to be outraged in this country to make a difference, our voices should be leading the media.  We shouldn’t be sitting back and letting the media lead us.

As far as Phil Robertson’s comments, I think they were extremely ignorant.  I don’t care that he opposes gay rights — I assumed that anyway — but how you say something is sometimes as important as what you say.  While I didn’t agree with what he said, and I believe it was fully within A&E’s rights to temporarily suspend him for his comments (being that the First Amendment only protects us against legal prosecution, not being held accountable by our employers for what we say), I fully support his right to believe however he wants even if I strongly disagree with it.

But there were just so many people who suddenly seemed “shocked” that he wouldn’t support same-sex marriage.  I live in the South — what he said is pretty much spot-on with what I hear pretty consistently.  Just because he’s a public figure doesn’t mean he’s suddenly going to become more mainstream with his way of thinking.

I’m pretty sure if I showed a picture of him (if nobody knew who he was) and described him as a Southerner from rural Louisiana who hunts, fishes and traps animals — they would assume he was a stereotypical conservative, which includes a strong opposition to same-sex marriage.

Yet following his comments, quite a few people who proclaimed to watch his show before were suddenly “boycotting” his show for his beliefs.

Beliefs that they had already assumed he had to begin with.

Like the NSA story — it’s something most people seemed to know already, yet were outraged once the story broke.  Granted, there’s a bit of a difference between the fact that the reaction to Robertson’s comments were immediate while the NSA story was something Americans had known for a while, but they’re both stories where millions of people seemed to assume something already yet acted outraged once those beliefs were confirmed.

Though not just limited to these two stories, this reaction by so many has always interested me because I just don’t understand why people suddenly get more angry over something they assumed was already going on just because they see it mentioned in a few headlines.

Again, I’m not saying people shouldn’t have an opinion about either one of these stories — or be angry about them.  I just find it interesting the “group” mentality people seem to get just because a story suddenly makes the news.  If they pretty much knew it was true before the headlines started rolling in, why didn’t they act outraged a long time ago?  Why didn’t they push it into the headlines then by demanding immediate change or action?  Oh well, the world may never know.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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